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Christopher John Nowinski (born September 24, 1978 in Arlington Heights, Illinoismarker) is an author and a former professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment. Nowinski is renowned for being WWE's first Harvardmarker alumnus, as he graduated with an A.B. in sociology. Following his wrestling career, he wrote Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis, which examined the long-term effects of head trauma among athletes. He is still under contract with WWE. He attended John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, IL.

Wrestling career

Nowinski was one of the three finalists on WWE's first series of Tough Enough, which Maven Huffman won. After failing to win the competition, Nowinski made appearances in independent promotions before finally being hired by WWE and entering its developmental territories. Nowinski competed as Chris Harvard, capitalizing on his status as an alumnus of Harvard University. Nowinski made his first major independent appearance in London, Englandmarker for the Frontier Wrestling Alliance promotion at its Lights Camera Action show on December 14, 2001. Nowinski competed in its main event teaming up with Alex Shane to defeat Drew McDonald and Flash Barker. Though this was the only show Nowinski did for the promotion, he regards it as the best promotion he has ever worked for outside of WWE.


Nowinski competing for WWE.
On the June 10, 2002 edition of RAW, Christopher Nowinski debuted in WWE, helping William Regal beat Bradshaw in a WWE European Championship match. Nowinski and Regal formed a short-lived team, helping each other win matches. On the June 17, 2002 edition of RAW, Christopher Nowinski defeated Spike Dudley in his WWE in-ring television debut. In October 2002 Nowinski began a feud with his former Tough Enough teacher Al Snow, with Nowinski defeating his former teacher on a few occasions. Late in November 2002, Nowinski brought then baby-face Maven Huffman into this feud saying he shouldn't have won Tough Enough. In December 2002, Nowinski formed a short-lived tag team with the heel gimmick of D'Lo Brown. This duo defeated Al Snow and Maven on two occasions, one being on the December 8, 2002 edition of WWE Heat and again on the December 9, 2002 edition of RAW. The following week on RAW (December 16, 2002) Nowinski defeated Maven by pulling Maven's tights. Nowinski and D'Lo then went on to feud with then-babyface, Test and Stacy Keibler, a feud which Maven briefly involved himself in.


In late January 2003, Nowinski went back to singles action when D'Lo received the managerial services of then-heel, Theodore Long and started a race angle. Christopher Nowinski participated in the 2003 Royal Rumble, entering third, being eliminated second by Rey Mysterio. During that match, he suffered what looked to be a concussion after Edge landed on Nowinski's head during a double-team flying dropkick sequence with Mysterio, however, according to Nowinski himself he was uninjured. From this point, Nowinski worked matches with the Ohio Valley Wrestling WWE developmental territory and was used as a jobber on Raw and WWE Heat. In late March 2003, Nowinski began a feud with then-babyface, Scott Steiner, with Steiner winning each of their matches. On the April 14, 2003 edition of Raw, Steiner made a pro-war speech during which Nowinski informed Steiner that "his 3 minutes were up" as 3-Minute Warning came out and squashed Steiner. Over the next few weeks, Nowinski aligned himself with 3-Minute Warning and then-heel, Rico to continually crush Steiner. This lasted a few weeks before 3-Minute Warning began their own feud with Steiner. Nowinski remained on HEAT for the next few weeks.

Nowinski appearing at a show in 2008
On the May 26, 2003 edition of Raw, Christopher Nowinski helped Rodney Mack defeat Bubba Ray Dudley in a "White Boy Challenge" and joined Theodore Long's group "Thuggin' And Buggin' Enterprises", a group of African Americans who worked a race angle in which they portrayed themselves as being victims of racism and being held down by the "White Man". This group included Theodore Long, Rodney Mack, and then-heel, Jazz. Nowinski's former tag team partner D'Lo Brown was an original member of the faction but was kicked out and attacked by Rodney Mack after a few weeks because, after a month of victories, he lost his first match under Long's management. Brown was released from his WWE contract a week later. Nowinski helped with Long's race angle and formed a tag team with Rodney Mack, starting a feud with the Dudley Boyz. This duo defeated the Dudley Boyz at Bad Blood 2003.

Nowinski suffered from post-concussion syndrome in June 2003, having sustained a concussion in a house show match in Hartford, CT. He performed for three more weeks before the increasing symptoms became so great that he was forced to take an extended absence. After a full year of post-concussion symptoms he chose to retire from wrestling.


Nowinski continued to work for WWE, doing public appearances and penning a column for "SmackDown! Your Vote". On December 12, 2005, Nowinski made his first appearance in some time on WWE programming (SmackDown! Your Vote campaign vignettes notwithstanding), when he briefly tried to convince Vince McMahon that he should be made the new general manager of RAW.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

*WWE Hardcore Championship (2 times)

*Worst Worked Match of the Year (2002) with Jackie Gayda vs. Bradshaw and Trish Stratus on Raw on July 7

Writing career

In October 2006, Nowinski released a book, Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis, which details his career-ending injury and discusses the dangers of concussions in football and other contact sports. The book includes stories from National Football League players as well as fellow wrestlers, with an introduction by Jesse Ventura. Later in the year, Nowinski initiated an inquiry into the suicide of Andre Waters, a 44-year old former NFL defensive back who shot himself on November 20, 2006. Waters had sustained several concussions over his career, and at Nowinski's behest, Waters' family agreed to send pieces of his brain to be tested. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist at the University of Pittsburghmarker announced that "the condition of Waters' brain tissue was what would be expected in an 85-year-old man, and there were characteristics of someone being in the early stages of Alzheimer's."

Nowinski played an integral role in the discovery of the fourth case of CTE in a former NFL football player, former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, who was killed in a fiery automobile crash in 2004 at age 36 after a 37-mile police chase at speeds up to 100 miles per hour on the wrong side of the highway. Julian Bailes, the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at West Virginia Universitymarker and the Steelers’ team neurosurgeon during Strzelczyk’s career, insisted to Nowinski over a phone conversation that he thought Strezelcyzk’s death, which was precipitated by strange behavior that some had labeled as "bipolar", was worth looking into due to its similarities to the Andre Waters case. Nowinski contacted Omalu, who discovered the brain was still available, and Nowinski called Mary Strzelczyk, Justin’s mother, to ask for permission to Omalu to examine it for CTE. Omalu's positive diagnosis was confirmed by two other neuropathologists.

Nowinski also collaborated with Ted Johnson, former New England Patriots linebacker, on symptoms of concussions after Johnson (who received over half a dozen concussions in his career) retired from the NFL after much controversy. Johnson was commissioned to write the foreword in Nowinski's book but at the last minute decided to pull what he had written.

Nowinski alerted police and the coroner of Chris Benoit, asking them to do a brain exam on Benoit's brain to see if concussions had any part in his rage or depression at the time of the double-homicide of his family and his suicide. In June 2007, Nowinski co-founded the Sports Legacy Institute, an organization dedicated to furthering awareness of and research on sports-related head injuries, and increasing the safety of contact and collision sports worldwide. Nowinski's work was documented on ESPN's Outside the Lines on September 5, 2007. On the same day, Benoit's brain examination report showed extensive damage due to concussions that could have led to dementia. To further the Sports Legacy Institute's mission, the Sports Legacy Institute and Michael Benoit, Chris' father, have started the Benoit Family Fund for Brain Injury Research.

Concussion expert

Since Nowinski's departure from WWE and the publication of his book, Head Games, he has garnered a significant amount of media attention, making numerous appearances on shows such as ESPN, CNN and the like, discussing sports related head injuries. While Nowinski continues to work as a consultant for Trinity Partners while sitting on the board of directors for The Sports Legacy Institute as president. Additionally, Nowinski makes public speaking appearances at schools and conferences, as well as to medical professionals. His work on concussion research has led him to be considered an expert voice in the field of concussion related research and awareness. He continues to be an outspoken voice advocating against the dangers of sports related head injuries, with numerous television and newspaper interviews. The work being done at Nowinski's foundation was featured on 60 Minutes on October 11, 2009.


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